Almost half of Australian workers are back in the office full time, but 71% of them want to work at least one day from home and 56% want more than one, according to a study by RMIT Online.

Factors including age, commute distance, and current office working models all affected the results, as 60% of employee respondents claimed that saving money was one of their primary reasons for not wanting to go back to the office according to the study, The Office Clash: How back to work policies are dividing management and workers

Further, 47% said that companies need to transparently communicate the reasons for going back to the office and that businesses must listen to employees and allow individual working solutions. 

From the management perspective, only 58% of managers agreed that workers can be “equally productive at home or in the office” and 24% said workers are more effective in the office — only 12% of employees thought this to be true.

RMIT Online interim CEO Claire Hopkins said that the report reveals the growing gap between workers and those in management positions, with differences of opinion on hybrid work and allowable levels of flexibility for workers.

“Whilst it may feel that our lives are returning to ‘normal’, this seismic shift in ways of working means we all have to create a new normal. And employees will vote with their feet if they’re not given the opportunity to co-design this with their employer,” said Hopkins.

“Before the pandemic, it was assumed offices increased collaboration, helped sustain the company’s culture and were a place where junior staff learned from experienced colleagues just by observing them.

“It’s now time to stop and think about the role of the office. The only thing we can be certain about is that this will continue to evolve and the companies that take a test-and-learn approach with their team will win in terms of attracting and retaining great people.”

Meanwhile, 39% of small to midsize enterprises (SMEs) in Australia suffered ransomware attacks since the pandemic began, according to a survey by Software Advice.

Read: Australian National Disability Insurance Scheme provider breached and treating its database as compromised

Working from home — as a result of pandemic lockdowns — saw SMEs grow their digital capabilities, but with that growth came a heightened risk of online attacks that exposed a lack of preparedness.

Lower budgets for security, a lessened capability to defend against cyberattacks, and employees working from home on unsecured networks were attributed as the key factors behind the figures.

Of 202 IT specialists surveyed, 27% said their company had “faced a ransomware attack once” whilst 14% said their company had “faced several attacks”.

“The cost of a cyberattack goes beyond the price of the ransom, but the good news is that SMEs can protect themselves from threats by implementing an array of security measures,” said Software Advice content analyst Laura Burgess.

Working from home requires a rethink of what tools and employee training are best suited to ensuring that companies minimise chances of an attack, Burgess added.

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